No lawyer should see us in private, Ondo election tribunal warns

The election petition tribunal in Ondo has warned petitioners and their lawyers against lobbying any of the justices sitting on the petition before it.

The three-member panel of the tribunal, led by Justice Rose Soji, gave the warning on Thursday, during its inaugural sitting held at the premises of the Ondo State High Court in Akure.

Mrs Soji, who was flanked by two other members of the panel, Aliyu Bapa and Frank Onyiri, said the election petition tribunal would not tolerate any “private talks” outside the court.

“We will not allow any private talk with members of the panel, everything should be made public,” she handed down the warning while addressing the petitioners.

Ms Soji disclosed that no fewer than 14 petitions were received by the tribunal for the February 25 National Assembly and March 18 State House of Assembly election exercise held in the state.

She explained that the election petition was time-bound, stressing that the tribunal will not entertain delay tactics that may be deployed by lawyers while filing their processes.

According to her, the tribunal would be fair and unbiased to all political parties involved in the process throughout the duration that the election petition tribunal would be sitting in the state.

“We crave the indulgence and cooperation of everyone so that we can finish on time. We received 14 petitions from both the National and State Assemblies.

“The election petition is time-bound. We will hear you and decide according to the law. We are not here for any party or petitioner. No lawyer or litigant should see us in private. We will not tolerate that, and we will finish well,” Ms Soji added.

While cautioning the lawyers against addressing the panel in a dress code not authorised for appearance, she said that only black and navy blue dress codes would be allowed in court.

Speaking on behalf of lawyers present during the sitting and the commencement of the pre-hearing conference, Olajide Ajana assured the panel that the processes would be smooth and unhindered.

Mr Ajana added that the tribunal would be given all the seriousness it deserved all through its sitting.

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